You might think growing up on the doorstep of Portland Harbour, it would be natural for Scotty Stallman to have discovered windsurfing.
But the former OnBoarder, who at 18 is already making waves at the front of the Pro Fleet of the UKWA British Slalom circuit, had never given the sport a second thought until he found an old windsurfing board of his dad’s in the back garden.
Intrigued, his dad explained what it was and took young Scotty down to Portland Harbour to watch the windsurfers flying up and down the beach. On his ninth birthday, he had his first go at The Official Test Centre (OTC). And that was it.
“As soon as I had that first taster session, I wanted another go,” Scott explains. “Almost overnight I went from windsurfing not being in my life, to windsurfing being my life. I was playing rugby at the same time I was learning to windsurf, but I’d be on the rugby pitch and, if it was really windy, I’d be wishing I was windsurfing.”
Through OnBoard at the OTC, Scott got his Start Windsurfing Stage 1 and then joined in with the centre’s Team15 group and took part in a couple of School Games. His progress was rapid, but while some of his teammates started following the Bic Techno / RYA squad path, Scotty wanted something different. He just wanted to go fast.
Scotty had seen the BSA Slalom Master Blasters flying round the Harbour in the early season and wanted a piece of the action. The only issue was he was still at the stage where he was learning to plane. So he cut a deal with his dad. If he could get to the level of being able to sail out to the Master Blaster buoy, go around it and sail back in he could enter the end of season Master Blaster at Weymouth and Portland.
One summer of relentless windsurfing later and he was in his first competition. Scotty continues: “Wherever there’s a challenge I’ve always been up for giving it a go. I’d seen how quick the Master Blasters and the sailors went during Weymouth Speed Week and it just looked super, super fun.
"I loved the challenge of almost teaching myself, and trying to find new ways to go quicker. That first event was a big jump up, from sailing and doing my own thing to racing other people, but I really enjoyed that. Even then I wanted to be the fastest, quickest, the best gyber, have the best photos!”
By 2016 not only had the now 15-year-old been crowned Weymouth Speed Week junior champion for three consecutive years, he was the National Watersports Festival (NWF) Young Windsurfer of the Year and was the first junior in the BSA Pro Fleet, and seventh overall.
Making his name
Scotty currently studies Engineering at Weymouth College on three days a week, on the other two days he works for a local boat builder in Portland, helping to make dinghies and doing board repairs.
He has combined this with becoming one of the hottest young talents in UK slalom, whilst starting to dip his toe into the Professional Windsurfers Association (PWA) World Tour.
In 2018, he made his international debut at the IFCA Slalom World Championships (Youth, Junior & Master) in Lake Garda, Italy. This he admits exposed him to a “different level” but he was encouraged he was keeping up with guys his age. And he saw what he needed to do to make the step up in class. So he went and practiced.
Fast forward 12 months and Scotty finished third overall in the 2019 UKWA Pro Fleet Slalom series, competed in the Mauritius Attitude Challenge and got his first taste of life on the PWA tour in Marseille, France. It was a taste he wants more of.
“Although I missed out on a wildcard to actually compete in France I got to sail with Ross WIlliams and the top PWA guys and that was massive for me. It was a really good experience; they are quick! The race is on to get their standard now.”
Is the future foiling?
The current Coronvirus looks like it’s going to scupper Scotty’s hopes of getting anymore PWA experience under his belt, in the short term at least. But when the lockdown in over, and it's safe to be back on the water, he's looking forward to honing his new passion – WindFoiling.
In true Scotty style, as soon as OTC started getting a few foils in he wanted a go. His mentor and OTC founder, Tris Best, encouraged him to put a foil on his board and try it. By the end of that first session he was a convert and last year he took top spot overall in the UKWA British Slalom Foiling Fleet.
With the iQFoil selected for the Paris 2024 Olympics is that now on his radar?
“I suppose I had better keep that in mind!” he laughs. “The development of the kit that’s coming in is exciting. When it’s too light for slalom, there’s just about enough to foil. Now the fleet’s got bigger and bigger with more sailors pushing the level. Some of the guys are going so quick. It’s so good to see it develop and be part of it.”
Scotty the man
For everything he’s achieved already you have to remember Scotty has just entered adulthood. He puts his maturity and social confidence down to windsurfing being such a sociable scene and mixing with older sailors from an early age. A few of his OTC OnBoard and Team15 buddies are still on the circuit with him too.
Although he is a qualified instructor, he says he rather be sailing than teaching at the moment, “especially when it’s really, really windy!” So what has windsurfing given him?
Scotty concludes: “Many people say windsurfing gives them freedom or a release when they are on the water. For me itʼs more than that, windsurfing is just a natural thing for me to do, there is no feeling like challenging Mother Nature both technically and personally, as long as you respect her!
“Windsurfing gives so much with the different disciplines providing different challenges and rewards. But if I had to choose the biggest thing I get from it it would be independence; that feeling when you’re screaming across the water just on the edge of control does it for me every time."